The Law Office of Cohen & Jaffe, LLP has assisted individuals with cruise ship negligence cases, and can help with a variety of related matters. Below are some general answers to common questions about cruise ship negligence and accidents.
How common are accidents on cruise ships?
No one knows for sure. Cruise lines have little incentive to report accidents that mar the public picture of trouble-free fun and relaxation on a fantasy vacation. Even federal law adopted to compel cruise ship owners to report accidents has had little effect.
The Cruise Vessel Security and Safety Act of 2010 requires cruise lines to report major crimes and accidents that occur onboard their ships, including:
- Suspicious death.
- Missing U.S. national.
- Assault with serious bodily injury.
- Setting fire to (arson) or tampering with the vessel.
- Theft of money or property in excess of $10,000.
- Rape and certain other sexual offenses.
A federal government report said in January 2014 that the 2010 law has resulted in less than a third of alleged offenses being made public. Reports that were made had been delayed by months or years, the General Accounting Office said. These are major injuries; cruise lines have no obligation to report less-serious accidents.
This reporting failure prevents passengers from making informed decisions prior to booking cruise vacations, the GAO said, according to NBC News.
One interesting website by a sociology professor from Memorial University of Newfoundland in Canada is Cruise Junkie. The site documents reports of “Events at Sea” on an almost daily basis, including running aground, capsizing, “sanitation” problems, sexual assault, fire and more.
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How can I hold the cruise company I traveled with responsible for my accident while aboard the ship?
If you can show that your accident was caused by negligence on the part of the cruise ship’s crew, the cruise line company, the ship’s builder or some other responsible party, you may be able to obtain compensation for your injury and losses connected to it.
Employees of a cruise line have a responsibility to ensure the reasonable safety of every passenger aboard the ship. If a passenger is injured in an accident or becomes seriously ill, the injured parties have the right to seek fair compensation for the harm they have suffered if their illness or injury should have been prevented.
Many accidents would be seen on a cruise ship legally the same as they were on land. If a passenger is injured in a slip-and-fall accident because a spill at the buffet line was not cleaned up or marked with warning signs in a timely manner, this may be a matter of crew member negligence. If a passenger slipped and fell on a stairway that was made of slippery material, like stone or glass, the cruise line may be held liable for the negligent design of the ship. A sexual assault onboard a ship that occurred in part because a cabin door did not lock properly may be actionable under a claim of negligent security.
In major accidents, like a grounding, sinking or fire that led to injuries, or a widespread illness, the ship’s policies and procedures and whether they were followed would come into question. For instance, the ship should have procedures for quarantining passengers who report symptoms of certain illnesses. You may be able to seek compensation if the crew’s negligence led to a catastrophic accident or ship-wide sickness.
An experienced cruise line negligence attorney can investigate your accident or injury and determine whether you had a viable claim.
I was hurt in an accident on a cruise ship while overseas, but the cruise started in New York. Will the location of the ship when I was hurt affect my potential claim?
Yes. The location of a ship when an accident occurs is one of the main complicating factors among cruise ship accidents that lead to injury. Cruise ships travel under a variety of laws, including international maritime law, U.S. law, laws that apply where the ship is located and laws of the country where the ship is registered. Cruise line operators count on this jumble of law to hinder passengers’ legal claims.
Individual ships fly the flag of the country where they are registered, and, in general, the laws of that country apply aboard that ship. This is sometimes known as adopting a “flag of convenience.” Meanwhile, passengers are protected by international maritime law, which makes a cruise line liable for injuries to passengers, and by additional laws that apply to ships that leave U.S. ports.
Part of the problem is that foreign countries may not provide protections that U.S. law would provide to a passenger who has been injured in an accident or assault. In most cases, it is unlikely that an injured passenger understands even the basics of a foreign country’s law. At the time of their injury, they are at the mercy of local officials and the ship’s crew. Afterward, they find themselves trying to get answers from an international conglomerate that owns the ship.
But, if you contact a Law Office of Cohen & Jaffe, LLP cruise ship negligence lawyer, our knowledgeable attorneys can untangle the web of laws that apply to your case. If negligence on the part of the ship’s crew or the cruise line company contributed to your injuries and loss, we’ll help you pursue a claim.
I understand that it is easy to become ill on a cruise ship and find that treatment is not available. Is this truly a concern?
Yes, illness can spread rapidly on the tight confines of a ship at sea. Cruise ships have infirmaries with medical staff, but the extent of the medical crew’s knowledge and abilities can vary. You may be days at sea with little help.
A cruise ship is a newly formed community of people who play, eat and live side by side. Any kind of illness can be brought aboard by someone who does not realize they are sick or who simply is not willing to give up on their vacation, regardless of the implications for others.
In addition, cruise ships are huge food-service operations with round-the-clock food and drink preparation and service. Negligent sanitation practices and contaminated food can lead to gastrointestinal illnesses, like norovirus, food poisoning (salmonella), dysentery and other food-borne illnesses. Here’s a CNN report about an incident that left 66 passengers and 17 crew members sick on a cruise in 2014.
Because of close quarters as well as the recirculated air below deck on a ship, illness can spread rapidly once it starts. Even a properly staffed infirmary can be quickly overwhelmed. At a foreign port, medical care options and quality may not meet the standards you are used to at home.
You may be able to obtain compensation if you suffered a debilitating illness that was linked to negligence on the part of the ship’s crew or the cruise line itself. A Law Office of Cohen & Jaffe, LLP cruise ship negligence attorney from New York can advise you about a potential claim.
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I was injured in an accident while on a cruise last season. How long do I have to file a claim after a cruise ship accident?
Your question refers to the “statute of limitations,” or the legal deadline for making a claim for damages caused by negligence on the part of the cruise line or its employees. The statute of limitations for legal action after a cruise ship accident is likely to be shorter than for other personal injury lawsuits in New York.
In most cases, the fine print on your cruise ticket includes language that requires you to notify the cruise line within a certain amount of time about any injury that occurs aboard the ship or in port during the cruise. Most cruise lines set this deadline at within six months of the accident.
This information on your ticket serves as a binding contract, which you agreed to at the time of purchase. Your ticket may also dictate which U.S. state a lawsuit would have to be filed in, which may affect the time you have to file a lawsuit.
If you were seriously injured during a cruise, it’s likely you reported it to a crew member or to the infirmary. But you should act quickly to obtain legal assistance if you intend to pursue a claim for compensation. In addition to time that has already passed, it will take some time to investigate your accident and develop and file a lawsuit.
At Law Office of Cohen & Jaffe, LLP, we can review your case to determine the legal options available to you to pursue a claim before the statute of limitations applies. Meanwhile, if you have reported your injury to the cruise line, you may receive a settlement offer. We suggest you contact us to obtain our counsel to review the offer before accepting it. It is likely to be less than you deserve.
What can I expect to pay a lawyer to pursue a cruise line negligence lawsuit?
A cruise line negligence lawyer at Law Office of Cohen & Jaffe, LLP will ask for a percentage of the overall settlement or court award obtained in a cruise ship accident lawsuit. But you will pay no money upfront for our services, and if we cannot obtain money for you, you will pay nothing.
Law Office of Cohen & Jaffe, LLP provides legal services on a contingency-fee basis. This means our fees depend upon us succeeding for you. If you retain our services, we will agree that we keep a set percentage of the settlement or court award obtained in the case. We will also seek reimbursement for certain expenses we pay up front to process and develop your lawsuit.
You will pay nothing out of pocket to seek justice with the assistance of Law Office of Cohen & Jaffe, LLP. We will begin by providing an initial legal consultation about your case at no charge whatsoever. After that meeting, you will have no obligation to retain us for any further work.
We’re ready to get started as soon as you are. Contact us now online or phone us at 866-895-0420 for a free claim review.